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Alternative funding planned for UMKC arts campus as Gov. Greitens vetoes state contributions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is vetoing the use of state funding to help build an arts campus in downtown Kansas City.

Greitens in a Wednesday statement said taxpayer money should not be used to help pay for the $96 million University of Missouri-Kansas City arts campus. Missouri lawmakers in April passed a measure to issue up to $48 million in state bonds to cover half the cost of the arts campus.

The university already has made other plans to pay for the campus.

University of Missouri Board of Curators and System President Mun Choi said earlier Wednesday that the system no longer is counting on the state funding. University officials said the system will develop alternative funding plans that will be presented at the curators’ meeting in September.

“This approach will allow construction to begin sooner and save money by avoiding construction cost inflation on a project that will benefit the students of UMKC, the people of Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” Choi said.

Supporters of the project are concerned that the governor’s veto would damage efforts to raise that other $48 million from private sources. Julia Irene Kauffman has already pledged $20 million to the campus, which would be built near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The city of Kansas City also has pledged $7 million for the project.

“The Downtown Arts Campus will be a critical element of our performing arts community. It needs to happen,” Kauffman said in the news release. “That’s why I have supported it, and that’s why I am so grateful to Chancellor Morton and President Choi for taking this bold step to make it a reality.”

Supporters argue that the arts campus could stimulate economic development while attracting more cultural activities and creative students to Missouri. Kansas City Sen. Jason Holsman has said the university hoped to create the “Julliard of the west.”

During debate on the issue, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost amid the state’s budget constraints and questioned the value of more students studying the arts.